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Nicole A. Arrato, Stephen B. Lo, Clarence A. Coker, Jonathan J. Covarrubias, Tessa R. Blevins, Sarah A. Reisinger, Carolyn J. Presley, Peter G. Shields, and Barbara L. Andersen

Background: Among all patients with cancer, those with advanced non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) experience the most distress. Although new therapies are improving survival, it is unknown whether receiving immunotherapy or targeted therapy during the COVID-19 pandemic increases patients’ psychological vulnerability. To meet clinical needs, knowledge of patients’ COVID-19 perceptions and safety behaviors is essential. Thus, this study compared patients’ psychological responses at diagnosis and during COVID-19 and compared patients with similar individuals without cancer during the same period. Patients and Methods: Patients with advanced NSCLC enrolled at diagnosis for cohort study participated ( identifier: NCT03199651). Those with follow-ups from April 28, 2020, through July 14, 2020 (n=76), were assessed again including COVID-19 measures. Simultaneously, community controls with similar sociodemographics and smoking histories were solicited (n=67). Measures were COVID-19 perceptions (Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire), social distancing, and depressive (Patient Health Questionnaire-9) and anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7) symptoms. First, analyses evaluated differences in the psychological responses of patients with NSCLC at diagnosis and during COVID-19. Second, patients and controls were contrasted on COVID-19 perceptions, social distancing, and psychological symptoms. Results: The depressive and anxious symptoms of patients with NSCLC were greater at diagnosis (P<.02) than during COVID-19, approximately 1 year later. Patients with NSCLC and controls did not differ in terms of sociodemographics, except those with NSCLC were more racially diverse and older, and had greater smoking history (P<.03). Groups did not differ regarding concern, understanding, or perceived control over COVID-19 (P>.406). Notably, controls anticipated the COVID threat would last longer, practiced more social distancing, were more concerned about family (P<.04), and reported worse psychological symptoms (P<.023). With less depression and anxiety, patients with NSCLC viewed COVID-19 as a shorter-term threat and had fewer COVID-19–related worries than did controls. For controls, COVID-19 was more salient, heightening worries and psychological symptoms. Conclusions: Despite multiple health stressors, patients with NSCLC demonstrated resilience when receiving cancer treatment during COVID-19. Nonetheless, this population remains psychologically vulnerable, requiring support at diagnosis and thereafter.

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Jimmie C. Holland, Barbara Andersen, William S. Breitbart, Bruce Compas, Moreen M. Dudley, Stewart Fleishman, Caryl D. Fulcher, Donna B. Greenberg, Carl B. Greiner, Rev. George F. Handzo, Laura Hoofring, Paul B. Jacobsen, Sara J. Knight, Kate Learson, Michael H. Levy, Matthew J. Loscalzo, Sharon Manne, Randi McAllister-Black, Michelle B. Riba, Kristin Roper, Alan D. Valentine, Lynne I. Wagner, and Michael A. Zevon

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Jimmie C. Holland, Barbara Andersen, William S. Breitbart, Luke O. Buchmann, Bruce Compas, Teresa L. Deshields, Moreen M. Dudley, Stewart Fleishman, Caryl D. Fulcher, Donna B. Greenberg, Carl B. Greiner, Rev. George F. Handzo, Laura Hoofring, Charles Hoover, Paul B. Jacobsen, Elizabeth Kvale, Michael H. Levy, Matthew J. Loscalzo, Randi McAllister-Black, Karen Y. Mechanic, Oxana Palesh, Janice P. Pazar, Michelle B. Riba, Kristin Roper, Alan D. Valentine, Lynne I. Wagner, Michael A. Zevon, Nicole R. McMillian, and Deborah A. Freedman-Cass

The integration of psychosocial care into the routine care of all patients with cancer is increasingly being recognized as the new standard of care. These NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology for Distress Management discuss the identification and treatment of psychosocial problems in patients with cancer. They are intended to assist oncology teams identify patients who require referral to psychosocial resources and to give oncology teams guidance on interventions for patients with mild distress to ensure that all patients with distress are recognized and treated.

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Michelle B. Riba, Kristine A. Donovan, Barbara Andersen, IIana Braun, William S. Breitbart, Benjamin W. Brewer, Luke O. Buchmann, Matthew M. Clark, Molly Collins, Cheyenne Corbett, Stewart Fleishman, Sofia Garcia, Donna B. Greenberg, Rev. George F. Handzo, Laura Hoofring, Chao-Hui Huang, Robin Lally, Sara Martin, Lisa McGuffey, William Mitchell, Laura J. Morrison, Megan Pailler, Oxana Palesh, Francine Parnes, Janice P. Pazar, Laurel Ralston, Jaroslava Salman, Moreen M. Shannon-Dudley, Alan D. Valentine, Nicole R. McMillian, and Susan D. Darlow

Distress is defined in the NCCN Guidelines for Distress Management as a multifactorial, unpleasant experience of a psychologic (ie, cognitive, behavioral, emotional), social, spiritual, and/or physical nature that may interfere with the ability to cope effectively with cancer, its physical symptoms, and its treatment. Early evaluation and screening for distress leads to early and timely management of psychologic distress, which in turn improves medical management. The panel for the Distress Management Guidelines recently added a new principles section including guidance on implementation of standards of psychosocial care for patients with cancer.